Comparing the Routes of Everest – 2022 edition

Everest Routes

For 98% of all Everest climbers, the choice of routes comes down between the Northeast (Tibet) and Southeast (Nepal) Ridges. For most everyone, all other routes are too dangerous, too difficult and not commercially guided.

This post will take a look at the various routes and go deep into the most popular commercial ones.

It may be an exaggeration to say that almost all the routes that can be climbed on Everest, have been climbed because a new generation of climbers always finds a way to blaze new trails. However, it does appear that Everest has been well scouted now and there are about 20 routes clearly identified and almost all have been attempted at least once.

Two still stand out today as unclimbed – the direct route up the East Face and the Fantasy Ridge aka the East Ridge. Both are extremely dangerous, and avalanche-prone. In years with little snow, the route becomes unclimbable as shown in 2006 by Dave Watson and team on the Fantasy Ridge.

The last time a new route was successfully completed on the peak was by a Korean team on the Southwest Face in 2009. And in 2019, Cory Richards and Esteban “Topo” Mena, made a valiant attempt up a 6,551-foot direct line in a couloir, a narrow rock gully, on the Northeast face of Everest that joins a high ridge and continues to a steep face and onto the summit. The route began just above Advanced Base Camp at 21,325 feet on the Tibet side of Everest. Eventually, they were forced to turn back at around 7,600 meters, due to “conditions we encountered coupled with our chosen tactics compounded by exertion,” after spending 40 hours on the wall with one open bivy.

Update to comment on Marc Batard route to bypass the Khumbu Icefall

Preparing for Everest is More than Training

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If you dream of climbing mountains but are not sure how to start or reach your next level from a Colorado 14er to Rainier, Everest, or even K2, we can help. Summit Coach is a consulting service that helps aspiring climbers throughout the world achieve their goals through a personalized set of consulting services based on Alan Arnette’s 27 years of high altitude mountain experience and 30 years as a business executive. Please see our prices and services on the Summit Coach website.

2021 Review and 2022 Update

Not much has changed in the content of this post but these are the latest updates for summits and deaths on both sides up to December 2021. No new routes were attempted since 2019. Of course the mountain was basically closed in 2020 and COVID took a toll in 2021, albeit there were summits but no new route attempts.

The spring 2021 season on Everest was perhaps the most complicated in history. With COVID out of control in India and then to Nepal, it didn’t take long to reach Everest Base Camp, despite the government’s adamant denials and cover-ups. Unfortunately, some guides also participated in this scandal who feared punishment for spreading “bad news,” a tarnished reputation for not taking care, or simple greed to ensure future business – we’ll never know but their credibility took a hit.

China closed Tibet to all foreigners but allowed one national team to climb, but they canceled a few weeks, citing fear of getting COVID from the Nepal side climbers on the summit – laughable.

The Nepal government issued a record of 408 permits to foreigners, but only 190 members summited, 46%, compared to 76% in 2019. An estimated 150 people evacuated Everest Base Camp with COVID symptoms. An astounding 282 Sherpa summited, continuing the trend of Sherpa dwarfing foreigners for Everest summits. Two members and two Sherpa died this spring, on the low-end of the usual death count on Everest.

Depending on COVID and if China opens Everest and travel to Nepal is not restricted (big IFs!!) I expect 2022 to be a record year on Everest, with price increases across the board. There was little learned from the 2021 season.

Read my Everest 2021 Season Summary

Part of the Icefall Bypass on Nuptse. Courtesy of marc Batard
Part of the Icefall Bypass on Nuptse. Courtesy of Marc Batard

Icefall Bypass?

70-year-old French alpinist Marc Batard announced in November 2021 that he had found a way to bypass the Khumbu Icefall by climbing on the flanks of Nuptse. Nuptse serves as the southern wall above the Icefall. The Benegas Brothers advocated for this for many years but could never make it a reality due to objective dangers and the climbing difficulty.

Batard seems convinced he has solved all the issues, including claiming to the Kathmandu Post, “There is no danger of an avalanche in the Nuptse ridge.” Further, he plans to bolt or attach anchors on the route, “…permanently install metal hooks or rock pitons by drilling the rocky spur.” He thinks it will take seven hours to reach Camp 1 in the Western Cwm. They plan to test it in the Spring of 2022.

It’s unlikely this will work, but good on him for trying. The slopes of Nuptse are steep, rocky, and as avalanche-prone as the West Shoulder of Everest. The technical difficulty is significant; thus, Sherpas making “speed” carries to stock the high camps would probably prefer the regular route to go faster. I doubt the Nepal Government will approve bolting Nuptse (but they did for a rap line on the old Hillary Step.) I also suspect that commercial guides will not allow their clients to climb such technical terrain. Most lack the skills to navigate this area safely. Of course, if it proves viable, it might be an alternative for expert climbers, but not the masses, in my opinion.

Batard plans to return to Everest in 2022 to test his new route and to set an age record for a no Os summit. In September 1998, Batard summited Everest in 22.5 hours on the Nepal side, setting a speed record that held for ten years. He has climbed six of the 8000ers—three of the mountains in a single year with his first, Gasherbrum II, in 1975. In 1987, he made the first winter ascent of Dhaulagiri. He has also summited Makalu, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma.


It can be difficult to analyze the routes as they are often named after their geological feature or the national team or even the person who first climbed it. But in general, there are about 20 climbing routes identified on Mt Everest.

There are three faces on Everest: the Southwest Face from Nepal, the East Face aka Kangshung Face from Tibet, and the North Face also from Tibet. Of these the Kangshung Face has seen the fewest attempts and even fewer summits.

Non-Standard routes

There are many, many variations on the non-standard routes. For example, climbing the standard Northeast Ridge to the summit and returning via the Great Couloir or the North Face. The Southwest Face is also popular, this variation includes the Bonington Route but also climbing via the Rib.

While the vast majority of climbers on the north side take the Northeast Ridge route, actually they are joining the ridge in the middle. The first ascent of the true Northeast ridge was in 1995 by a Japanese team. They start at roads end at 5,150 meters. One section of that route is called the Pinnacles and is extremely technical and difficult. It took them three days and fixed 1,250 meters of rope to navigate thru this section.

An interesting bit of trivia is that thru December 2021, of the 10,656 summits, only 254 (191 members and 63 hired) took a “non-standard” route, not the Southeast Ridge or Northeast Ridge. There were 81 (51 members and 30 hired) deaths on these climbs – 27% of the total deaths, which explains partly why the standard routes are most popular with commercial operators – lower risks. The countries with the most summits on the non-standard routes are Nepal (67), Japan (26), the USA (27), S. Korea (23), USSR (23), and Russia (16)

Everest Faces

This is a list by face with descriptions that include the common names plus some used by the Himalayn Database.

The illustrations are courtesy of National Geographic (Martin Gamache, Jaime Hritsik, Chiqui Esteban, Ng Staff Sources: 3D Reality Maps; The American Alpine Journal; The Himalayan Database; Ed Webster; East Face Imagery Courtesy Of Digital Globe @ 2012; Raphael Slawinski). Visit this National Geographic piece about a proposed new route in 2015 with an excellent article and animations.

North Face

  1. (J) Integral N.E. Ridge – 1995 Japanese Team
  2. (L) Russian Couloir – 2004 Russian
  3. (K) The Complete NE Ridge, N-NE
  4. (M) South Pillar, NE Ridge-N Face-Norton Couloir I – Messner Solo Route 1980 Messner Italian
  5. (N) American Direct – 1984 American
  6. (O) The Great Couloir aka Norton Couloir (White Limbo) – 1984 Australian
  7. (P) Russian Direct – 2004 Russian
  8. (Q) Japanese Supercouloir – 1980 Japanese
  9. (A) West Ridge Direct – 1979 Yogoslavian
  10. (R) Canadian Variation – 1986 Canadian
North Face Everest Routes
East Face
  1. (H) East Face-S Col: Neverest Buttress – 1988 International
  2. (I) Southwest Pillar, East Face: American Buttress – 1983 American
  3. (J) Integral N.E. Ridge – 1995 Japanese
  4. (K) N. Ridge/N.E. Ridge – 1960 Chinese
East Face Everest Routes
Southwest Face
  1. (A) American West Ridge – 1963 American
  2. (C) Korean (Park) – 2009 South Korean Team
  3. (D) Russian Buttress – 1982 Soviet
  4. (E) Southwest Face – 1975 British
  5. (F) South Pillar – 1980 Polish
  6. G) South Col – 1953 British
Southwest Face Everest Routes


Everest Routes
Everest Routes by Pete Poston

Using the Himalayan database, I researched the non-standard routes to get an idea of the volume on these routes. This is not an all-inclusive list.

Khumbutse-W Ridge-N Face (Hornbein Couloir) 211989
Lho La-W Ridge 1921989
N Face 2402004
S Pillar 451 2000
SW Face including the Bonington Route 482 2009
 West Ridge- North Face- Hornbein Couloir801986
E Face1201999

Standard Routes

By now you know two routes dominate Everest. 10,402 out of the total 10,656 summits followed the same basic route that was pioneered in 1953 by John Hunt’s British expedition to the summit using the Southeast Ridge-South Col and Shi Zhang 1960’s summit via the Northeast Ridge-North Col.

Today, these routes seem to be caught up in guide politics as to which is safer, the degree of difficulty and opportunity for success. An argument can be made for climbing from either side.

Southeast Ridge – South Col Route

Beautiful trek to base camp in the KhumbuKhumbu Icefall instability
Easy access to villages for pre-summit recoveryCrowds, especially on summit night
Helicopter rescue from as high as Camp 3 at 23,500′  if necessaryCornice Traverse exposure
Slightly warmer sometimes with fewer windsSlightly longer summit night

Northeast Ridge – North Col Route

Fewer people (half of the Nepal side)Colder temps and harsher winds
Can drive to base campCamps at higher elevations
Easier climbing to mid-level campsA bit more difficult with smooth or loose rocks
Slightly shorter summit nightCurrently no opportunity for helicopter rescue at any point

Now let’s take an in-depth look at both sides

South Col Route

Mt. Everest was first summited by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Edmond Hillary with a British expedition in 1953. They used the South Col route. At that time the route had only been attempted twice by Swiss teams in the spring and autumn of 1952. They reached 8500m well above the South Col. Of note, Norgay was with the Swiss thus giving him the experience he used on the British expedition. The Swiss returned in 1956 to make the second summit of Everest.

This is a typical south side climb schedule showing average time and the distance from the previous camp plus a brief description of each section. More details can be found on the South Col route page.

  • Trekking Peak Acclimatization: Lobuche 20,161′
    • Many teams now summit a  trekking peak for acclimatization thus reducing one trip through the Icefall.
  • Basecamp: 17,500’/5334m
    • Home away from home. Located on a moving glacier, tents can shift and platforms melt. The area is harsh but beautiful surrounded by Pumori and the Khumbu Icefall with warm mornings and afternoon snow squalls. With so many expedition tents, pathways and generators, it feels like a small village.
  • C1: 19,500’/5943m – 4-6 hours, 1.62 miles
    • Reaching C1, can be a dangerous part of a south climb since it crosses the Khumbu Icefall. The Icefall is 2,000′ of moving ice, sometimes as much as 3 feet a day along the edges. But it is the deep crevasses, towering ice seracs and avalanches off Everest’s West shoulder that creates the most danger.
  • C2: 21,000’/6400m – 2-3 hours, 1.74 miles
    • The trek from C1 to C2 crosses the Western Cwm and can be laden with crevasse danger. But it is the extreme heat that takes a toll on climbers. Again avalanche danger exists from Everest’s West Shoulder that has dusted C1 in recent years.
  • C3: 23,500’/7162m – 3-6 hours, 1.64 miles
    • Climbing the Lhotse Face to C3 is often difficult since almost all climbers are feeling the effects of high altitude and are not yet using supplemental oxygen. The Lhotse Face is steep and the ice is hard. The route is fixed with rope.  The angles can range from 20 to 45 degrees. It is a long climb to C3 but most teams require it for acclimatization prior to a summit bid.
  • Yellow Band – 3 hours
    • The route to the South Col begins at C3 and across the Yellow Band. It starts steep but settles into a sustained grade as the altitude increases. Climbers are usually in their down suits and are using supplemental oxygen for the first time. The Yellow Band’s limestone rock itself is not difficult climbing but can be challenging given the altitude. Bottlenecks can occur on the Yellow Band.
  • Geneva Spur – 2 hours
    • This section can be a surprise for some climbers. The top of the Spur leading onto the South Col has some of the steepest climbing thus far. It is easier with a good layer of snow than on the loose rocks.
  • South Col: 26,300’/8016m – 1 hour or less
    • Welcome to the moon. This is a flat area covered with loose rock and surrounded by Everest to the north and Lhotse on the south. Generally, teams cluster tents together and anchor with nets or heavy rocks against the hurricane force winds. This is the staging area for the summit bids and the high point for Sherpas to ferry oxygen and gear for the summit bid.
  • Balcony: 27,500’/8400m- 4 – 5 hours
    • Officially now on Everest, climbers are using supplemental oxygen to climb the steep and sustained route up the Triangular Face. The route is fixed with rope and climbers create a long conga line of headlamps in the dark. The pace is maddeningly slow complete with periods of full stop while climbers ahead rest, consider the decision to turn back or continue to the balcony. It can be rock or snow depending on the year. Rockfall can be a deadly issue and some climbers now use helmets. They swap oxygen bottles at the Balcony while taking a short break for some food and water.
  • South Summit : 28500’/8690m – 3 to 5 hours
    • The climb from the Balcony to the South Summit is steep and continuous. This is the most technical section of a climb from this side IMHO.While mostly on a beaten down boot path, it can be challenging near the South Summit with exposed slabs of smooth rock in low snow years. The views of Lhotse and the sun rising to the east is indescribable at this point.
  • Hillary Step – 1 hour or less
    • One of the most exposed section of a south side climb is crossing the cornice traverse between the south summit and the Hillary Step. But the route is fixed and wide enough that climbers rarely have issues. The Hillary Step was changed by the 2015 earthquake. Climbers now report a large snow bulb area with no rock climbing as in the past. Previously it was a short 40′ section of rock climbing, again fixed with rope, that created a bottleneck on crowded summit nights. Usually, there was an up and down climbing rope to keep people moving. The current ‘Hillary Slope” still is a source of bottlenecks.
  • Summit: 29,035’/8850m – 1 hour or less
    • The last section from the Hillary Step to the summit is a moderate snow slope. While tired, climber’s adrenaline keeps them going.
  • Return to South Col: 4 -7 hours
    • Care must be taken to avoid a misplaced step down climbing the Hillary Step, the Cornice Traverse or the slabs below the south summit. Also, diligent monitoring of oxygen levels and supply is critical to make sure the oxygen lasts back to the South Col.
  • Return to C2: 3 hours
    • Usually, climbers are quite tired but happy to be returning to the higher natural oxygen levels regardless of their summit performance. It can be very hot since most climbers are still in their down suits.
  • Return to base camp: 4 hours
    • Packs are heavy since everything they hauled up over the preceding month must be taken back down. It is now almost June so the temperatures are warmer making the snow mushy thus increasing the difficulty. But each step brings them closer to base camp comforts and on to their home and families.

This animation is based on Alan Arnette’s personal experience of climbing on Everest 4 times and summiting on May 21, 2011.
Not all teams will use this exact schedule to summit from the Nepal side via the South Col.

For a more detailed description and animated route map, please see the  South Col route page.

Northeast Ridge Route

The north side of Everest is steeped in history with multiple attempts throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. The first attempt was by a British team in 1921. Mallory led a small team to be the first human to set foot on the flanks of the mountain by climbing up to the North Col (7003m). The second expedition, in 1922 reached 27,300′ before turning back and was the first team to use supplemental oxygen. It was also on this expedition that the first deaths were reported when an avalanche killed seven Sherpas.

The 1924 British expedition with George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine is most notable for the mystery of whether they summited or not. If they did summit, that would precede Tenzing and Hilary by 29 years. Mallory’s body was found in 1999 but there was no proof that he died going up or coming down. Irvine’s body has not been found and there is speculation the Chinese found and removed the body, and the infamous Kodak camera if it was with Irvine since it was not with Mallory.

A Chinese team made the first summit from Tibet on May 25, 1960. Nawang Gombu (Tibetan) and Chinese Chu Yin-Hau and Wang Fu-zhou, who is said to have climbed the Second Step in his sock feet, claimed the honor.  In 1975, on a successful summit expedition, the Chinese installed the ladder on the Second Step.

Tibet was closed to foreigners from 1950 to 1980 preventing any further attempts until a Japanese team summited in 1980 via the Hornbein Couloir on the North Face.

The north side started to attract more climbers in the mid-1990s and today is almost as popular as the Southside when the Chinese allow permits. In 2008 and 2009, obtaining a permit was difficult thus preventing many expeditions from attempting any route from Tibet. And it was closed to foreigners in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID.

Now let’s look at typical north side schedule showing average time from the previous camp plus a brief description of each section. More details can be found on the Northeast Ridge route page.

  • Basecamp: 17000′ – 5182m
    • located on an extremely windy, gravel area near the Rongbuk Monastery. This is the end of the road. All vehicle assisted evacuations start here. As of 2021, there are no helicopter rescues or evacuations on the north side or for any mountain in Tibet.
  • Interim camp: 20300’/6187m – 5 to 6 hours (first time)
    • Used on the first trek to ABC during the acclimatization process, this is a spot where a few tents are placed. Usually, this area is lightly snow covered or none at all.
  • Advanced base camp: 21300’/6492m – 6 hours (first time)
    • Many teams use ABC as their primary camp during the acclimatization period but it is quite high. This area can still be void of snow but offers a stunning view directly at the North Col. It is a harsh environment and a long walk back to the relative comfort of basecamp or Tibetan villages.
  • North Col or C1: 23,000’/7000m – 4 to 6 hours (first time)
    • Leaving Camp 1, climbers reach the East Rongbuk Glacier and put on their crampons for the first time. After a short walk, they clip into the fixed line and perhaps cross a couple of ladders that are placed over deep glacier crevasses. The climb from ABC to the North Col steadily gains altitude with one steep section of 60 degrees that will feel vertical. Climbers may use their ascenders on the fixed rope. Rappelling or arm-wrap techniques are used to descend this steep section. Teams will spend several nights at the Col during the expedition.
  • Camp 2: 24,750’/7500m – 5 hours
    • Mostly a steep and snowy ridge climb that turns to rock. High winds are sometimes a problem making this a cold climb. Some teams use C2 as their highest camp for acclimatization purposes.
  • Camp 3: 27,390’/8300m – 4 to 6 hours
    • Teams place their Camp 3 at several different spots on the ridge since it is steep, rocky and exposed. Now using supplemental oxygen, tents are perched on rock ledges and are often pummeled with strong winds. This is higher than the South Col in altitude and exposure to the weather. It is the launching spot for the summit bid.
  • Yellow Band
    • Leaving C3, climbers follow the fixed rope through a snow-filled gully; part of the Yellow Band. From here, climbers take a small ramp and reach the northeast ridge proper.
  • First Step: 27890’/8500m
    • The first of three rock features. The route tends to cross to the right of the high point but some climbers may rate it as steep and challenging. This one requires good footwork and steady use of the fixed rope in the final gully to the ridge.
  • Mushroom Rock -28047’/8549m – 2 hours from C3
    • A rock feature that spotters and climbers can use to measure their progress on summit night. Oxygen is swapped at this point. The route can be full of loose rock here adding to the difficulty with crampons. Climbers will use all their mountaineering skills.
  • Second Step: 28140’/8577m – 1 hour or less
    • This is the crux of the climb with the Chinese Ladder. Climbers must first ascend about 10′ of rock slab then climb the near vertical 30′ ladder. This section is very exposed with a 10,000′ vertical drop. It is more difficult to navigate on the descent since you cannot see your feet placement on the ladder rungs. This brief section is notorious for long delays thus increasing the chance of frostbite or AMS.
  • Third Step: 28500’/8690m – 1 to 2 hours
    • The easiest of the three steps but requires concentration to be safe.
  • Summit Pyramid – 2 to 4 hours
    • A steep snow slope, often windy and brutally cold, climbers feel very exposed at this point.  Towards the top of the Pyramid, climbers are extremely exposed again as they navigate around a large outcropping and experience three more small rock steps on a ramp before the final ridge climb to the summit.
  • Summit: 29,035’/8850m – 1 hour
    • The final 500′ horizontal distance is along the ridge to the summit is quite exposed. Slopes angles range from 30 to 60 degrees.
  • Return to Camp 3: – 7 -8 hours
    • The downclimb takes the identical route. Early summiteers may experience delays at the 2nd Step with climbers going up or summiteers having down climbing issues.
  • Return to ABC: 3 hours
    • Packs can be heavy since everything hauled up over the preceding month must be taken back down. It is now almost June so the temperatures are warmer making the snow mushy thus increasing the difficulty. But each step brings them closer to base camp comforts and on to their home and families.

For a more detailed description and route pictures, please see the Northeast Ridge route page.

The Deadly Route?

As this chart shows, using the standard routes accounts for 73% of the deaths, with the Southeast Ridge dominating all deaths at 150 or 49%. This number is heavily driven by the 2014 ice serac release off the West Shoulder of Everest onto the Khumbu Icefall taking 17 lives, and when 14 people were killed at Basecamp in 2015 after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused an avalanche off the Pumori-Lintgren ridgeline. Whether these were one-time events or ongoing concerns, have yet to be determined. Therefore, climbers must make their own decision as to the safer standard route.

Here is the summary update with 2021 statistics:


Northeast Ridge

Southeast  Ridge

Other Routes






















Illness (non-AMS)










Icefall Collapse




















Falling Rock/Ice










% of Total





Everest Stats and Price


The Himalayan Database reports that through December 2021 there have been 10,656 summits (5,351 members and 5,305 hired) on Everest by all routes by 6,098 different people. 1,410 people, including 990 Sherpa, have summited multiple times for 4642 total summits. There have been 756 summits by women members.

The Nepal side is more popular with 7,023 summits compared to 3,633 summits from the Tibet side. 216 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen, about 2.1%. 35 climbers have traversed from one side to the other. About 62% of all expeditions put at least one member on the summit. 621 climbers have summited from both Nepal and Tibet. 135 climbers have summited more than once in a single season, including 67 who summited within seven days of their first summit that season. 640 people have summited from both the Nepal and Tibet side.

305 people (186 westerners and 119 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to December 2021, about 3.5%. 86 died on the descending from summit bid or 28% of the total deaths. 13 women have died. The Nepal side has 195 deaths or 2.9%, a rate of 1.16. The Tibet side has 112 deaths or 3%, a rate of 1.08. Most bodies are still on the mountain but China has removed many bodies from sight on their side. The top causes of death are from avalanche (77), fall (71), altitude sickness (35) and exposure (26).

In 2021 there were 472 summits, none from Tibet as it was closed but 472 from Nepal and all used supplemental oxygen. There were 4 deaths.

Everest is actually getting safer even though more people are now climbing. From 1923 to 1999: 170 people died on Everest with 1,169 summits or 14.5%. But the deaths drastically declined from 2000 to 2021 with 9,571 summits and 135 deaths or 1.4%. However, three years skewed the deaths rates with 17 in 2014, 14 in 2015 and 11 in 2019. The reduction in deaths is primarily due to better gear, weather forecasting and more people climbing with commercial operations.

Of the 8000 meter peaks, Everest has the highest absolute number of deaths at 305 but ranks near the bottom with a death rate of 0.9 Annapurna is the most deadly 8000er with one death for about every four summits (72:365) or a 3.10 death rate. Cho Oyu is the safest with 4,038 summits and 52 deaths or a death rate of 0.40 with Manaslu next at 0.82.


In my post on “How Much Does it Cost to Climb Mt. Everest-2022 edition,” I use the headline for 2022 that prices continue to increase from all operators on both sides. The increases are due to the Chinese raising permit fees, more Nepalese regulations around minimum pay and insurance, and  a strong environment of supply and demand from clients. As I said before, there is an insatiable demand to climb the world’s highest mountain.

So, do you have to be rich to climb Everest in 2022? Well, richer than a few years ago now that it costs about the same to attempt Everest from the Nepal or Tibet side. However, the Nepali operators have always been willing to deal, so take their list prices as an opening bid. With a hurting tourism business, the Nepali companies are in the mood to make deals. So I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get on a low-end, essential services-only trip for $30,000. As for dealing with foreign operators, don’t bet on a significant discount. It’s customary to offer a little off if you pay in a year in advance, but that’s about it. They fill their teams months in advance so there’s little incentive to discount.

The price range for a climb with a Nepali based, all Sherpa supported team is around $45,000 on either side. If you want to climb with a Western outfit and a ‘Western’ guide i.e. non Sherpa, it run around 68,000 and a fully custom climb will break $115,000 going as high as $225,000. Over the past five years, companies have increased their prices by 6% on the Nepal side and 12% on the Chinese side.


I am often asked which side or route is safer and my answer is pick your poison.

By now you can see the non-standard routes are the domain of the elite and highly skilled alpinist, and even with their talent, the death rates soar.

On the standard routes, the south has the Khumbu Icefall and the north has the Steps and weather. However these numbers clearly show the south takes a stronger toll with the 2014/15 deaths. But the real story is the role and impact of the unsung heroes – the Sherpas.

In spite of the Icefall dangers, I think most operators will say the south side is safer and slightly easier and consider the 14/15 events as a one-off occurrence.

But the real answer is no one knows for certain what each season will bring. So train hard, get skills on low mountains and altitude experience on another 8000m mountain before Everest and go with a team you can count on in an emergency.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

Preparing for Everest is More than Training

summit coach

If you dream of climbing mountains but are not sure how to start or reach your next level from a Colorado 14er to Rainier, Everest, or even K2, we can help. Summit Coach is a consulting service that helps aspiring climbers throughout the world achieve their goals through a personalized set of consulting services based on Alan Arnette’s 27 years of high altitude mountain experience and 30 years as a business executive. Please see our prices and services on the Summit Coach website.


Everest Pictures and Video

© all images owned and copyrighted by Alan Arnette unless noted

A tour of Everest Base Camp 2016

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9 thoughts on “Comparing the Routes of Everest – 2022 edition

  1. Amazingly comprehensive, Alan. I thought I had a good grasp of the routes on Everest, but your work really clarified it for me. Climb on!

    1. Thanks, Rodney. As we have discussed many times, Everest suffers from stereotypes and many people think there is only the “paved road to the summit.” 🙂 so hopefully this article opens a few minds that there are a plethora of routes from straightforward to never climbed.

  2. Thanks for this very informative article. Had no idea there are so many possible routes to the top. The animations and photos are fine additions.

  3. Great summary, Alan!

    Neverest Buttress was repeated twice, by Chleans in 1992, and by an Indian expedition in 2001. However, both expeditions had a somewhat easier passage through the “Cauliflower Ridge” of the lower buttress, where the ice towers had considerably melted in comparison to the conditions present during the first ascent in 1988.
    And in most route graphics, including those in this article, the Messner route was drawn too low – it was, in fact, above the obvious cliff band and below the “Mallory Terrace”.
    Also, another main unclimbed line, in climbers’ minds since the 1970s, is the SW-Face Direct.

  4. Wow, this is an excellent post, Alan, so detailed & complete, a terrific read. Thanks so much.
    Alan, I could probably look this up somewhere but maybe you know off the top of your head- has the Neverest Buttress route (Stephen Venables) ever been repeated? I’ve always considered this to be an amazing accomplishment by a small four man team. Thanks , Kevin

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